Three Methods of Prayer

Prayer is performed in three ways.

One is audible, in which we say prayers with our tongue. Ordinary people repeat certain prescribed passages from religious scriptures or recite prayers composed by some Saint. Some think that these are not very beneficial, since they represent the feelings of the Saints, while true prayer is an inner cry from the individual's own heart. Unless our prayer represents the inmost feelings of our heart, we do not derive benefit from it. Reciting other people's prayers is like wearing the clothes of others, which do not fit us. The prayers of Saints and holy men serve us as a model in as much as similar feelings may arise in our own minds, and in this way the reciting of such prayers helps us.

The second method of praying is mental, in which the tongue does not come into play. In this kind of prayer, concentration is necessary. Before doing so, one feels the presence of the Lord who pervades everywhere, and prays for His help and becomes absorbed in His contemplation. While so absorbed pray. For this, concentration is necessary. The mind should be withdrawn from everything outside and should be focused on the presence of the Lord or the Master. Then give vent to the feelings of your heart with devotion and gratitude; confess your weaknesses and ask for help. Open your heart to the Lord. For doing this successfully, patience and firm determination are necessary. It cannot be done in a hurry. It is like learning to play a violin or some other instrument, which requires patience and determined practice. In the beginning the mind does not take to it, but slowly and slowly, with remembrance of the Lord and contemplation of the Guru, the mind becomes still and success is achieved. When a seeker makes a little progress by means of audible and mental prayers, he should wait for a while for His mercy and Grace.

When this practice is perfected, he will perceive after praying the flow of peace and bliss in his soul and the mind will become joyful. After tasting this joy, the mind does not wander. These are signs of the descent of the mercy of the Lord and the Master.

Ordinary people consider this to be all. A seeker, however, should be thankful and should all the more desire for union with the Lord.

In such union a seeker rises above the bondage of the body and reaches the presence of the Lord and the Master, from whom all blessings originate. He then sees in operation, the invisible hands which cannot be described. The seeker feels that he is no longer in his body and that he has entered a new Kingdom. He floats in spiritual regions and becomes a dweller in them in this very life. He sees the Lord face to face, and enjoys this supreme happiness. Because of the power of the Lord's attraction the seeker's heart, mind and soul become dyed in the colour of the Lord. This can be called mystical prayer – the third method.

It has been described by many Saints who have experienced it. This kind of prayer can be found even today. But this kind of prayer can be achieved only through the special mercy and Grace of the Lord. The effort of the seeker does not count. Such an experience, even for a moment, leads to faith in the Lord and the Master, and produces confidence in spiritual progress and experience. All sins, selfishness and fears vanish. We progress and become the recipients of the inner Grace of the Saints.

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